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March 28, 2007

Young Musicians Denied Performance Opportunities

Written by
cindy mcleod

Canadian jazz and blues news

Alberta musician’s speak out against new ruling that affects underage players

There’s an outcry in Alberta from musicians regarding the liquor control commission’s new policy of refusing to issue special youth permits allowing underage players to perform in bars and lounges.

The permit, which has been issued in the past by the liquor commission (along with parental consent) gave budding musicians access to audiences and performance opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have.

The ruling came as part of a reversal of a policy the commission had introduced which would allow children as young as 12 to work in kitchens at licensed establishments. The public responded loudly on the issue, causing the commission to reverse the decision with a ruling that covers all underage children, affecting the youth musicians that currently perform in bars and lounges.

Marilyn Carlyle-Helms, of the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission, said when the board reviewed that change, they decided it would be best not to allow anyone under 18 to work in licensed establishments.

“I think they just took a blanket sort of a protection view … given some of the kinds of things that youths can be exposed to in a bar, for example violence,” she said.

Julian Nowicki, Chair of the AGLC Board, made a comment in a media release March 16th that the commission will need to “reconsider” this ruling, based on the concern that Albertans have made it clear they view young musicians playing in a bar as different than having underage kids working in kitchens on a regular basis.

Some Alberta musicians said the province is being unnecessarily heavy-handed with the ruling.

Many professional musicians have cut their teeth and mentored under music masters in such settings, including Calgary blues guitarist Johnny V, who played in bars and lounges when he was young and now jams with underage musicians, including his 15-year-old son.

“It just exposes them to a wide range of music and players. You can’t have that kind of interaction at a school, not anywhere. That’s where you get your training.”

Mills has organized a petition and sent letters to the musical community to try to get the commission to change its ruling.

To see (or sign) a copy of Mill’s petition visit www.themusicianslounge.com

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